Visual Trends Guide

12 Trends That Will Define Visual Culture Over the Next 12 Months
Nowadays, photography trends evolve and die quickly. In 2016, according to Deloitte, 2.5 trillion photos were shared and stored online, and 90% of them were taken with a smartphone.

We are part of a culture that documents everyday actions, experiences, portraits and small details (often automatically, and on the go). Our photos receive their minute of fame in news feeds — and are laid to rest, buriedunder tons of other attention-seeking posts.

With the new iPhone and Google's Pixel cameras, it appears 2016 will mark the final shift of photography to smartphones. How will technology and social media change photography in 2017? We have analyzed data from Depositphotos's search algorithms and collaborated with top designers and photographers in the industry to discover what's in demand. As a result, let's explore the significant trends that have emerged and trends that will continue to dominate visual communications in the coming year.
90s are back — for real
The children of the 90s have become a major target audience for brands and the use of social media has aided in helping them become brand ambassadors. This generation has started their families, launched businesses, created a culture of awareness and are educated; they are driving consumer demand and their purchasing power continues to increase. This means that 90s nostalgia will remain on trend in visual communications; it is another step towards more sincere, candid and close-to-life images. Polaroid-like snapshots, flash photos and a bold, colorful style will all emerge from this trend. Film filters associated with the 90s add a personal touch to photographs, delivering a storytelling effect that digital photos often lack.
Emotions and movement
When everyone is somewhat of a photographer, the demand for original, candid and authentic images continues to grow. Highly visual consumers don't react the same way to polished photos with posed models; they want emotions, flaws, the grit of life, and real people in action. Relatable photos that personalize a story and capture a moment (like a Snapchat story) continue to trend heavily, these visuals have the power to catch attention and keep the consumer engaged.

Samuel Carter Mensah
Designer at AKQA London/ NIKE
We create and like our content in a specific way for Snapchat, a different way for Instagram and a whole other way for Twitter. The nature of each platform allows our creativity to be triggered in various ways to make the best and most optimum use of them. It challenges us as creatives and it's an exciting time indeed.
Photographers document what a character sees when doing chores like getting kids ready for school, driving to work, buying groceries and choosing movies to watch. We crave photos of the imperfect, messy and hasty daily routine, images that relate to individuals in a mass market. The same is true for food, objects and interior images. Social media continues to trigger the demand for real-life, candid and editorial looking content in ads and media. At Depositphotos, the keyword "authentic" increased in search inquiries by almost three times during 2016.

Tyler Olson
Professional photographer, one of the top contributors at Depositphotos
People are still wanting well composed (or at least interestingly composed) images, but don't want the sterile stock photos that we have seen so often. The challenge is to capture real life looking images - images that don't appear set up. Captured in a way that appears natural and candid, yet has refinement enough to make the image interesting.
Connected world
We trust our smart devices with our health and security, we use our chatbots to read news and share our everyday moments through social media. We haven't reached singularity yet and content simply can't keep pace with rapid technological advancements. As a result, the market will continue to represent AI and VR with mystified and vague images that don't reflect how these technologies function and look but emulate ideas, activity and emotion.

Mart Biemans
Illustrator and Digital Artist
I think the development in this field will be insane as devices are interacting with each other more smoothly each year. It makes it more challenging, yet also more rewarding for designers and creatives.
The demand for "internet of things" images on Depositphotos has doubled in 2016, and will continue to rise.

[Still] challenging stereotypes
Despite many social initiatives and brand campaigns, we still notice a lack of diversity when it comes to commercial photography. A struggle with social stereotypes poses a question for visual communication, whether in brand imagery or other media sources.

Authentic photography showcases a reflection of the world we live in, with an accent on diversity through representations of different ethnicities, genders, cultures, ages, sexual orientations and appearances. Images of the unconventional, the different personalities in the workplace, leisure and exercise activities are in great demand in microstock and are trending with media.
How can stock photography help fight gender stereotypes?

To combat stereotyping challenges in the image marketplace we have curated a collection of photographs promoting equality, and eliminating presumptions about gender roles and professions. In our selection of images, women are represented in positions of power and in a wider selection of professions. The growing demand for female non-stereotypical imagery has clients and contributors alike helping to start a new movement.

See the collection
Video domination
According to Syndacast, by 2017 as much as 74% of all internet traffic will be video content.
This might be like stating the obvious, but when Facebook announces video as its top priority, we have no choice but to mention it. Video content is exploding into social media, corporate sites and brand advertising. According to Syndacast, by 2017 as much as 74% of all internet traffic will be video content. Bottom line, demand for original, high-res, candid stock footage will skyrocket.

360 degree, 4K and aerial video are some of the hottest trends this year, as a result of new gear that allows to shoot in these formats. GIFs are also popular with social media and news feeds as a perfect preview format for video content.
With the latest Elon Musk claims and NASA project successes, the Moon, Mars and the rest of the cosmos seems now closer than ever before. Images of galaxies and nebulae are trending in social media and commercial photography, illustrating the latest discoveries and showing the beauty of outer space. In the second half of 2016, we saw a spike of interest for "space" stock photos, with search inquiries increasing by 56%. Photos with stars have been turned into fabric patterns, backgrounds and even hair coloring trends.
Despite the limitations, astrophotography doesn't require much: a digital camera, a tripod and a bit of ambition. The results are truly fantastic and bring high hopes for future star travels.
Bold and bright still life
From taking a picture of your lunch, to using a photo of shoes as a metaphor for gender equality - the life of inanimate objects speaks for itself. People are always on the lookout for symbols and the cheeky playfulness of visual interpretation. Sometimes, the picture of everyday objects can tell a story better than an action shot. Through vivid colors and contrast, an eye-catching photo of an object makes quite the statement; photos of gadgets, food, accessories and utilities will turn into bright pop-art images.
Moody, minimalistic landscapes
A minimalist lifestyle is trending across the world and it is finding its expression in visual communications as well. Minimalistic photography has been in style for a couple of years; decorating popular blogs, brand images and moodboards.

This year will be all about landscapes. Imagine austere Scandinavian panoramas and mid-season monochrome scenery. This is what is trending now: deserted nature, unusual patterns, mist, rain and quiet stillness. The secret here should be on leaving a few elements in the shot and removing any other distractions as well as mastering minimalism through color manipulation.
Drone photography

Drone photography has become a fundamental part of wedding planning and looks like it is going to seep into other photography categories as well. Drones bring limitless possibilities in playing with new angles and illuminating ordinary objects in a never before seen perspective. From impressive cityscapes and coastlines to new angles on architecture and travel pictures.

Antony Kitson
Digital Designer, Founder of OneTenEleven Media
Drones are becoming a mainstream tool for photography. I expect to see more photography from a drone's high altitude view throughout 2017. Photos taken from high in the sky are powerful and captivating; they offer unique aerial perspectives with a sense of adventure. The prices of drones are dropping and the quality and functionality rising — now, drones are more accessible than ever.
Simple patterns
Minimalistic patterns have great benefits, they are versatile and can be used for a wide range of purposes.The demand for background images is on the rise as they can help communicate a message in an artistic way and are customizable.

Like any other piece in visual content trends in background patterns are authentic, bold and unique. There is demand for photos that capture ordinary objects revealing patterns in nature, textiles or graphic design. On the other hand, there is a need for simple lines and bold color patterns that help to create clear interfaces for smartphones and devices.
Technology-driven Generation Z
The first digital era generation, they grew up in a multicultural world and are pragmatic and hard-working. These kids and teens are the target audience for countless marketing campaigns and brands; they are notorious for being big spenders.

Xavier Bourdil
Art director & illustrator
To me, technology is the new power tool. As with any of the tools we have, it could be used for better or for worse. We have to be vigilant that human beings are the main concern in this evolution, and not be overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities of technology. This is especially true with the young people that are born into a world that is already technology-driven.
Tough to capture but trending heavily are images of teenagers and youth that embody the essence of the technology-driven Generation Z. They can be described as open minded, socially conscious, social media savvy and are experts at multitasking on multiple devices simultaneously as they have never seen a world without them.

DIY stories
We admire entrepreneurs and artists, adore personalized, handmade things and crowdfund audacious projects. While mass production and consumerism culture still dominates the world, small businesses and the do-it-yourself philosophy have won the hearts of millions.

Photography reflects this trend, with images of shop owners, artists at work and in pursuits of creative hobbies. Images that showcase the process of DIY creation and running a small business are in demand. We noticed that search inquiries for "patchwork" photos have increased by 98% and for "entrepreneur" stock images — by 124% during 2016.
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All images available here - Depositphotos Stock Images